Styx rocks the Peak with classic favorites, new tunes
They came from New York, New Jersey, from the counties of Pennsylvania and from as far away as Maryland.
The faithful fans of Styx, some holding tickets from two years ago when the pandemic shut down concerts all across America, were treated to an electrified performance by the Classic Rock Hall of Fame band at Penn’s Peak on Saturday night. This was the group’s fifth time at the mountain top venue.
For two and half hours, Styx played a compilation of 19 songs, many of which were fan favorites from their triple platinum albums. The list was sprinkled with a few recordings from their new album titled, “Crash of the Crown,” that was produced during the pandemic as a musical renewal of the human spirit.
The show opened with “Flight of Our Lives” off the new album, followed by the popular, “Blue Collar Man” that brought the audience to their feet and “Grand Illusion” the centerpiece song from the album of the same name.
Their iconic love ballad, “Lady,” recorded in 1972, inspired a Peak full of couples to sway to the rhythm of the song while standing with their arms around each other’s shoulders.
Enhanced by flashing lights and a back drop of ever- changing bright colors, “Reveries” featured the musical talents of the seven- man band. Front man Tommy Shaw then encouraged audience participation with “Light Up,” a tune especially written to help energize the human spirit that had been shut down by COVID- 19.
“Join us in this celebration,” shouted Shaw to the sold- out crowd. “Light up, everybody! Light up and be happy!”
Speaking of being happy, Randy Strouse and his wife, Joanne donned their Styx T-shirts and came from Danville to see their favorite band for the third time.
“We first saw them back in the 70s in Hershey,” said Randy. When asked what she liked most about the group, Joanne rolled her eyes and said, “Tommy Shaw!”
Dwayne and Linda Hixson, who have been married for 37 years, traveled to the Peak from Shenandoah. “I saw them 38 years ago in Omaha during their Grand Illusion Tour,” said Dwayne. “I was hooked when I heard, “Suite Madame Blue” on the radio.”
Keyboard player Lawrence Gowan was the showman for Styx all night long. He sported a top hat and a sparkling black jacket and delighted the crowd with his athletic gyrations around his revolving keyboard during “Rockin’ the Paradise.”
“Man in the Wilderness” featured an acoustic guitar introduction before a powerful drum performance from percussionist, Todd Sucherman that helped set the mood with a lyrical tempo of despair and loneliness. Shaw displayed his extraordinary ability to sing the song with multiple levels of voice range that reached a jaw dropping high held pitch at the final note.
Shaw explained to the audience that, “Too Much Time on Our Hands,” another fan favorite, was produced after he was driving to a final recording session of “Paradise Theater,” their tenth album.
“I started to hum a beat in the car and when I got to the studio, we threw the whole thing together in about five minutes,” he said.
The last song before an intermission delivered the lyrical genius of Gowan in “Sweet Madame Blue while he stood standing though a silhouetted misty fog. The ballad then rolled into a crowd pleasing and patriotic, “America, the Red, White and Blue” before the break.
In the second half of the show, Styx showed off their musical versatility when the band’s newest member, Will Evankovich played the mandolin in “Red Storm” from “Crash of the Crown.”
“Miss America,” from the seven million dollar seller, “Grand Illusion” album ended with James “JT” Young playing a series of up-tempo riffs while holding his electric guitar over his back shoulders. Shaw played his acoustic and electric guitars during “Sound the Alarm” and “Crystal Ball” and Gowan brought excitement to the stage when he played the keyboard behind his back.
Styx’s ingenuity that began with the progressive rock movement in the 70s was highlighted within selections that were characterized by classical influences and Gowan’s synthesizing sounds from his all in one piano and organ. These sounds were especially noted during their performances of the single, “Crash of the Crown” and their classic, “Fooling Yourself.”
Perhaps the most popular song of the night began with an amazing solo on the keyboard by Gowan before he segued into the familiar first notes of “Come Sail Away” that induced an uproar of approval from the crowd. A blazing orchestration of electric guitar picking from Shaw, Young, and Evankovich, along with the soulful bass guitar vibrations from Chuck Panozzo and Ricky Phillips concluded with Gowan standing upon his keyboard and the crowd joining in a boisterous singalong.
Styx came back on stage and performed two encores: “Mr. Roboto” and “Renegade” that kept the crowd on their feet until the house lights came back on.
Super Styx fan, Dwayne Hixson put the band’s popularity into a perspective.
“It’s been 38 years for me now and their music never gets old.”